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Monday, December 13, 2004

Meet the New Boss

Posted by DavidNYC

There's been a lot of turnover in George Bush's cabinet lately. Here's a helpful chart to keep track of the changes:


Old Chief

New Chief

Last Job


Mike Leavitt



Homeland Security

Tom Ridge



US Trade Rep.

Robert Zoellick




Donald Rumsfeld



Drug Czar

John Walters




Alphonso Jackson




Gale Norton




Elaine Chao




Norman Mineta




John Snow




Ann Veneman

Mike Johanns

Nebraska Gov.


Don Evans

Carlos Gutierrez

Chairman, Kellog Co.


Rod Paige

Margaret Spellings

Domestic Policy Advisor


Spencer Abraham

Samuel Bodman

Deputy Treasury Secretary


Tommy Thompson

Mike Leavitt

EPA Administrator


John Ashcroft

Alberto Gonzalez

White House Counsel


Colin Powell

Condi Rice

Nat'l. Security Advisor

Veterans Affairs

Anthony Principi

Jim Nicholson

US Amb. to Vatican

The three jobs in red are "cabinet-level" jobs, not actual cabinet positions, which is mostly just a technicality. And the "last job" column refers to the new department head, where there is one.

But what does all this have to do with the Swing State Project, you ask? Well, I had been pretty certain that New York Governor George Pataki was destined for a cabinet post - that he was tired and bored with his current post and wants a "graceful" way out. But Bush has filled the empty spots so quickly that my theory may be totally wrong.

However, there are still a couple of spots open. Mike Leavitt just moved from the EPA to HHS, and Pataki has shown something of an interest in environmental issues (not that Bush probably really cares). But the last "moderate" governor from the tri-state region to head the EPA didn't have a great tenure there (Christie Whitman), and Pataki's name hasn't been mentioned as a possible replacement there. While Pataki is a more "reliable" conservative than Whitman, if he still dreams of national ambitions, EPA is probably too low-level for him. I think Trade Representative is also too low-level, and it's also not clear that Zoellick is going to leave his spot.

But, don't forget: Homeland Security is once again open, in the wake of the Bernard Kerik crackup. That might actually be just the ticket for Pataki - a way to burnish his conservative credentials without actually alienating whatever moderates he's won over in his decade in office. (He can leave the PATRIOT Act prosecutions to Alberto Gonzalez.) Having been burned badly by Kerik (and Giuliani), however, Bush may not want to turn to another New Yorker for this post.

You're probably still asking, "Why should the SSP care about this?" Well, Pataki's future remains one of the biggest question marks for one of the most important races in 2006: New York Governor. Unlike Texas, say, the top spot in NY is very powerful and, with the Dems out of power in DC, it will be a premiere leadership spot. I think Spitzer would beat Pataki, but it will still be a challenge, as Pataki is a strong fund-raiser. (The only other major challenger to Spitzer would be Giuliani, and I'd say no there's no better than a 40% chance he'll run. His role in the Kerik screwup also hurts him.)

It's possible Pataki might just stay in office until the end of his term. It's possible (but even less likely) that he'll run again. But he may still be able to squirm his way into the Bush cabinet. We'll know the answer to that soon.

Posted at 05:49 PM in General | Technorati


Any word to the rumor ol' HST is gunning to replace John Walters?

Posted by: Bob Brigham at December 13, 2004 10:34 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment